The New Orleans Saints emerged victorious over the Detroit Lions last night as they used a huge fourth quarter to send the Lions packing. The Saints struggled early but as has been the case this season at the Superdome, it was simply a matter of inevitability for the Saints to put up a huge point total. The Lions had numerous opportunities and simply could not take advantage of them. There were some questionable officiating decisions, but the refs didn't drop interceptions and the refs didn't miss tackles.
All that matters now is the 49ers and Saints will square off in six days time with a chance to advance to the NFC title game on the line. The folks on NBC Bay Area announced the opening line on TV last night and it has the Saints opening as three point favorites heading into Candlestick.
In setting the odds, it is worth noting that it is not a simple case of oddsmakers deciding who they think is the better team. Rather, they are looking to set the line based on how they think people will wager on the game. It is also worth noting the 49ers get three points as a the home team, so in a sort of "neutral field" sort of way, the oddsmakers think the Saints will be viewed even a little more highly.
It is always interesting to see how the line moves over the course of the week. I don't expect a significant change, but it wouldn't surprise me to see it close at around 4 or 4.5 points. In their outdoor contests this season, the Saints are
4-1 3-2 with the following results:
Week 1 - Lost 42-34 at Green Bay
Week 4 - Won 23-10 at Jacksonville
Week 5 - Won 30-27 at Carolina
Week 6 - Lost 26-20 at Tampa Bay
Week 14 - Won 22-17 at Tennessee
That doesn't tell us everything we need to know, but it is worth keeping in mind. The Tennessee game tells us as much as any of them given that the Saints were playing great football indoors at the time. There is no doubting they can win football games outdoors, but they have not been quite the same team on grass as on turf. It could mean nothing, it could mean everything.